I heard from the irrepressible Dave Tucker down at ARI’s Houston TRC last week, who gave me an update on the call center’s special holiday outreach program, Christmas Angels. According to Dave, Josh Stoppelwerth got the event going in 2012 after he transferred down from ARI’s call center in Grapevine, TX. It’s a simple concept: the folks at the TRC take a collection among themselves, then select a local family that needs a helping hand during the holidays. Employees buy gifts with their donations, and then deliver those gifts to the family just before Christmas. Now that Josh has transferred north to Canada, Dave has taken the reins as Santa’s Helper.
Dave explains that the focus is a little different this year, with donations going to children and families who find themselves at Texas Children’s Hospital. Why? It’s a long story, but it basically starts with the fact that Dave likes to dress up as food (you’ll need to ask him). Add to this that in the run-up to Halloween this year — much to the chagrin of his wife but to the delight of his young son — Dave visited Texas Children’s dressed as a giant hot dog. Beyond observing there weren’t many other people attired as part of the lunch menu, Dave he saw how much his antics cheered up the kids, parents, and even the medical staff.
And so when it came time to choose a family for the Holiday Angels project, Dave remembered that day and how something as silly and unexpected as a human hotdog had made so many kids smile. He suggested that the TRC adopt the hospital, because “by doing so, we would were able to touch the lives of many more people than just one family. Luckily, the great folks at the Houston TRC agreed!”
Dave says this was by far the most successful year for Holiday Angels, with employees collecting over $500 in donations and cash. Dave, along with Greg Leveille, Brian Perry, and Chris Goodwin, delivered six huge clear plastic totes filled with coloring books, crayons, dolls, games, toys, and crosswords – not to mention a single donation of 500 various age-appropriate comic books! The foursome also delivered 75 individually wrapped “Care Kits”, packets of personal toiletries for patients and family staying with them. According to Dave, the hospital staff was overjoyed with the size of the donation, and let the four know that these gifts would be distributed throughout the year.
When it was all over, Dave allowed himself to be a little more serious and reflective than his hotdog suit might indicate. Writing to his fellow employees, he said, “I could not be more proud to be part of an organization that puts so much emphasis on helping those in our community. You all embody what the Holman/ARI culture is all about, and are the reason that this company remains the family that it is. Thanks again for not only your efforts and participation this latest event, but for everything you do day in and day out. You guys are truly amazing.”